New Technology Is Turning Food Waste Into Truly Biodegradable Plastic
Original post on One Green Planet
Plastic pollution has become one of the biggest environmental problems we face today. Another alarming issue which needs our attention is food waste – billions of tons of food are thrown away and wasted in prosperous countries, often going to rot in landfills where they release tons of greenhouse gases over time. Those two issues seemingly have little to do with each other, aside from being burning problems we have to seriously address. However, it seems like a new company has devised a way to connect the two and cancel out their damage by turning food and agricultural waste into biodegradable plastics.
Full Cycle Bioplastics has developed a special technology that can turn organic waste into polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) – a naturally occurring polymer which biodegrades with no harm to the environment, Springwise reports.
The company uses inedible food waste, agricultural by-products, and used paper and cardboard, breaks the materials down and turns them into feedstock for naturally occurring bacteria. The bacteria consume the prepared waste and convert it into PHA – which is then dried and processed. In the end, the finished resin can be used to make anything that would be made from synthetically created plastic. And, once used, the PHA products can re-enter the recycling circle and become feedstock to make new material.
The natural polymer created from organic waste is far superior to plastics that are most commonly produced today – because it biodegrades. Conventional plastic takes hundreds of years to break down through a process of photodegradation and even then, they do not disappear but just breaks up into hundreds of little pieces – which means that our single-use plastic straws, coffee cups, water bottles, and so on never really go away. With PHA, that is not the case.
Full Cycle Bioplastics now hopes to license the technology to large waste producers and handlers – like landfills or food and beverage processors that will be able to produce and sell the new bioplastic. Hopefully, the innovative technology will find its way onto the market and begin to benefit the planet and oceans, which now are dumping ground for around 8.8 milliontons of plastic waste that enter them every year.